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The Passing of Former NHL and Ottawa 67’s Tough Guy Chris Simon

Former NHL enforcer and Ottawa 67 Chris Simon, one of the toughest customers of his generation, has died at the age of 52. The NHL Players Association confirmed the news on Tuesday. The cause of death was not announced. The association said in a statement to the Canadian Press that “his children and family are grieving the sudden loss of their father, son, brother, friend and teammate.”

Simon played 15 years in the NHL, which included a 1996 Stanley Cup ring with Colorado; being part of the blockbuster Eric Lindros trade; and serving one of the longest suspensions in NHL history.

Simon’s teams made the Cup Final on three occasions – with the Avalanche in ‘96 (win), the Washington Capitals in ‘98 (lost to Detroit), and the Calgary Flames in ‘04 (lost to Tampa Bay). His finest offensive season was in 1999-00 when he scored 29 goals and 49 points with the Capitals.

After being drafted 25th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in 1990, they later traded him to Quebec as part of the Flyers’ massive Eric Lindros trade with the Nordiques.

During his career, Simon was beyond feisty, getting suspended eight times by the NHL for a combined 65 games. 30 of those came in 2007, when he was suspended for stomping on the leg of former Ottawa Senator Jarkko Ruutu as Ruutu was lying on the ice. That was a suspension record at the time.

While his pro career was troubled at times, there were also challenges in life after hockey.

According to the National Post, Simon made more than $15 million in his NHL career but filed for bankruptcy back in 2017. At the time, he said he was unable to work because of injuries suffered during his career and got by on government social assistance and disability cheques.

Simon was well known to older Ottawa fans, who vividly remember his junior days with the 67’s. From 1988-91, he played three years with the club, scoring 104 points in 115 games.

Former 67’s coach Brian Kilrea once referred to Simon as the best player he almost traded. After Simon’s first OHL season, Kilrea wasn’t smitten with Simon’s work ethic. So he tried to unload the 17-year-old Wawa, Ont. native to the first team that would offer him anything.

When Simon bounced back with 74 points for him the very next season, Killer was glad no one took him up on his offers.

In all, Simon played 728 games in the NHL, 168 in the KHL, and piled up 1,824 NHL penalty minutes. He played for the Quebec Nordiques, Colorado Avalanche, Washington Capitals, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, Calgary Flames, New York Islanders, Minnesota Wild, Vityaz Chekhov, UHC Dynamo, and Metallurg Novokuznetsk.

Chris Simon made a lot of stops in hockey and a lot of friends, who are all missing him badly today.

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